Note: This is the first in – Bob willing – a series of updates on the state of the Amarr-Minmatar and Caldari-Gallente factional warfare zones in low sec.

So, is faction warfare dead yet?

Well, if you believe a whole slew of Reddit and the EVE Online forum threads then yes, it went the way of the dodo shortly after the introduction of Citadels. Why is that? Upwell structures have been dropped in all systems of any importance in the war zone, and these have removed the strategic advantage for a militia that previously came with owning a system (you can now dock and reship in enemy systems if you manage to drop an Astrahus in it). As a result, the only systems really worth fighting for today are the mission hubs. In addition to Citadel spam, capsuleers of all four factions share a number of similar gripes. Plex farming is a plague – veritable hordes of farmers switch factions regularly, based on Tier levels and LP markets. Combined with Citadels, it becomes difficult for any militia to motivate its members to seriously contest systems.

But wait – you say faction warfare is dead, but if you check the stats you still see thousands of players enlisted on each side, and lately, we’ve even seen some systems moving hands. It clearly isn’t entirely dead just yet, even though there is a deeply-rooted, pervasive sense in all militias that faction warfare could be so much more; that it could be the perfect gateway into lowsec and PvP in general for new capsuleers who have just entered New Eden, if only the abuses and aberrations in the system could be ironed out from time to time.

But putting that lament aside, let’s take a look at the state of play in the two war-zones.

Amarr-Minmatar

Since its collapse down to a single system a few weeks ago, the Amarr militia has managed to retake two systems: Anka and Saikamon. I guess it’s a start, but will this lead to a broader revival of the Amarr-Minmatar war? That remains to be seen, as it seems unlikely at this point that the Amarr militia will be able to resist the waves of Minmatar farmer alts that wiped them out just a little while ago.

One can only hope that they will get a different response this time, and some actual fights will ensue. The Amarr-Minmatar warzone has been plagued by hordes of farmers and has seen far fewer “good fights” than its northern counterpart; it has become a war only in name. Will the Minmatar militia show that it is still interested in fighting, or will it continue to game the system to rake in maximum ISK?

Caldari-Gallente

In the Caldari-Gallente warzone, things had been quiet for months after the collapse of CalMil’s Tier 3 push last winter. Gallente ended up driving CalMil back into its strongholds and retaking most of the war zone, and it did so in such an overwhelming fashion (thanks to its superior organization, powerful allies and a deep roster of both highly skilled veterans and plex-happy new players) that the conflict effectively ended. Having effectively starved itself of the content it needed to survive, GalMil then went looking for other feeding grounds and launched a sov campaign in Cloud Ring. This turned out to be a big success, and before long a large part of Cloud Ring had been occupied and even renamed “Galmilistan”.

With the majority of GalMil forces occupied in Galmilistan, CalMil began to move away from its hunkered down, defensive posture about a month ago and eventually began a small campaign to retake many of the Caldari systems that had been lost in the GalMil steamroll. System after system fell and CalMil spirits were on the rise as balance in the war zone was gradually restored (today, CalMil holds 46 systems to GalMil’s 55).
Then, earlier this week, GalMil forces returned to Black Rise and attacked the systems of Oinasiken and Aldranette, which were both lost by the Caldari in short order.

That leaves the current situation on the ground very much in flux: will Caldari push on, and will this prompt a return of the GalMil legions from the remote province of Galmilistan, or will things quiet down again?

It’s too early to tell. You’ll just have to stay tuned for the next update…

Full disclosure: Lynx Artrald is a director for Black Shark Cult in The Bloc and a proud member of the CalMil Coalition.